This week, Marie McFalls celebrates 40 years with Atlanta Allergy & Asthma! You may not recognize her name or face, but if you appreciate the daily pollen count, you can largely thank Marie. In 1983 Marie began counting the pollen to assist our physicians in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients. Knowing what allergens were in the air helped them determine appropriate testing as well as treatment. Over the years, Marie has been instrumental in the growth and development of not only our Pollen/Mold Analysis Department, but in establishing and advancing Atlanta’s only pollen counting station certified by the National Allergy Bureau.
Atlanta Allergy Pollen Count History
Originally the daily count was only distributed to the AA&A physicians. Then the count was posted in the waiting rooms of the six clinics that existed at that time. Eventually, patients began calling the clinics to find out what the count was that day. So, AA&A began the Pollen Hot Line. Anyone could call the line to hear the daily count and soon the media became interested in providing this information to its viewers and listeners. A fax list was developed, and Marie remembers entering each individual fax number on that list – taking over an hour at times!
In 2000, the first Atlanta Allergy & Asthma website was developed, and the count was available on the site. Today, at the height of spring pollen season, over 21,000 subscribers receive a daily pollen count email.
Pollen Count School
In 1990, our technicians began participating in a rigorous program to achieve and maintain their certification to identify and count pollen and mold. At that time, AA&A had the only certified pollen monitoring station in the Southeast. To this day, our technicians are certified, and must maintain their certification, through the National Allergy Bureau.
As Marie recalls her years at Atlanta Allergy & Asthma – she notes that with all the technological advancements in the broadcasting of the daily count – we still count the pollen and mold very much the same way we did back in 1983. An air sample is taken high above the ground – and our technicians identify and count each individual pollen under a microscope.
Marie, thank you for your years of service!